Letter To The Editor: Bennett Will Be ‘A Tremendous Asset’ To Selectmen

Photo: Jessie Bennett (photo from http://www.bennettforbelmont.com/about-jessie/)

To the editor:

I’m writing to express my enthusiastic support for Select Board candidate Jessie Bennett. Having worked with Jessie on many projects around town, I am continually impressed by her level of commitment and experience, her ability to build consensus, her outstanding people skills, and her financial pragmatism. She is a tremendous listener and actively seeks out opinions and perspective from others, particularly those who may not always feel heard.

She is a frequent attendee at Belmont High School Building Committee meetings, traffic meetings, Planning Board meetings, Business Study meetings, Selectmen meetings, and likely countless others that I’m not there to witness (and attended these before she decided to run for the Select Board). She is dedicated to pedestrian safety/safe streets and traffic calming, senior services, affordable housing, environmental sustainability, and is a well-known champion for our exceptional education system. I’ve seen firsthand the work that she’s put into these issues and know that she will bring that tireless energy and perspective to the Select Board table.

Jessie was instrumental in getting the high school project passed, and I’m confident that she will be a key player in the success of the project going forward. Her experience in leadership, collaboration, and financial matters will be a tremendous asset to our Select Board. I look forward to voting for her on April 2.

Remember, local elections matter – please take a few minutes to learn about each candidate across all races, and show up on Tuesday!

Emma Thurston
Baker Street
Precinct 1 Town Meeting Member

Final Say: Roy J. Epstein, Board of Selectman [Video]

Photo: Roy Epstein (center), candidate for Board of Selectmen.

Over the next few years, Belmont will face the greatest financial challenge in its history.

A nearly $300 million school project is underway. The Police Station and DPW renovations are out to bid. A new Library and a new hockey rink are top priorities. Many roads and sidewalks are still in terrible shape. Most critically, preserving the quality of our schools and town services is at risk because the funds from the 2015 override will be depleted within two years.

The stakes are nothing less than our overall quality of life.

In a financial crisis, we need financial leadership. As former Selectman Ralph Jones put it:

“The nature of the challenges facing the town calls for strong leadership, creative problem solving, and a full grasp of the intricacies of the town’s finances. Of the candidates, only Roy Epstein has the qualities these challenges require.”

Belmont needs a Selectman with demonstrated experience and competence that can be applied immediately to solve the actual problems before us.

I am that candidate.

I have a Ph.D. in Economics from Yale, I’m an Adjunct Professor of Finance at B.C., I’ve spent the last 30 years advising law firms on complex financial issues. I’ve been a member of the Warrant Committee (the town’s financial watchdog) since 2007, and currently, serve as its Chair.  I’ve gained experience in all aspects of town government from working on many critical committees, including major building projects and Belmont Light. My work has saved tens of millions of dollars for the town. (For details, see my website, www.RoyForBelmont.com.)

Very soon, we will navigate a financial hurricane.  I’m the only candidate in this election who has the demonstrated skills to manage this storm successfully as a member of the Board of Selectmen.

I entered this race with a deep sense of civic duty. I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors and listened carefully to your concerns. We must remain a united and respectful community. At this critical time, I offer my knowledge, experience, and commitment to you, to help us meet the challenges ahead together.

I ask for your vote on Tuesday, April 2.

Letter To The Editor: Joint Endorsement For Jessie

Photo: Jessie Bennett at the Belmont League of Women Voters’ debate

To the Editor: 

Jessie Bennett is the selectman candidate we should vote for.  She is fiscally responsible and an enthusiastic civic leader. Jessie Bennett is the candidate who understands the needs of our town because she mingles with the citizens and listens to differing points of view.

Jessie steps out publicly to address problems. She led the fight to make walking to the Burbank School safer. She has joined the Transportation Advisory Committee and the High School Traffic Working Group in order to make sure that our new high school does not overwhelm the surrounding neighborhoods.

When building a new high school was on the horizon, Jessie jumped in to help with the project. She not only worked to pass the debt exclusion, but she has also been a presence at the Building Committee Meetings to participate in the discussions.

Jessie doesn’t come into the process in the middle of deliberations, she is there from the start.

Experience is valuable but what kind of experience do we need? Jessie has had experience in the world of work, from banking to marketing and communications as well as working in the non-profit sector. Her kind of experience leads to good decision making for all the citizens of Belmont. In the debates, Jessie has demonstrated her knowledge of the varied aspects of the issues and how they present opportunities for the Town of Belmont.

Selectmen do not make decisions in a vacuum. They have the assistance of professional employees who make the town work on a daily basis and also advise the selectmen on issues of finance. They provide information and background materials that lead to good decision making. A selectman is not just an individual, she is also part of the team.

Jessie Bennett is one of us. She knows how the ordinary people rely on the schools, the recreation activities, the Council on Aging, the work of the Department of Public works, and the Board of Health.  Her decision making will not only be financially sound but it will also be informed by broad input. Let’s put a smart hardworking woman on the Board.

Fred and Anne Paulsen

School Street

Final Say: Tim Flood, Board of Selectmen

Photo: Tim Flood

By Tim Flood

I’m running for Selectman to provide a neutral perspective in all matters Belmont faces. The angst I have heard throughout town is that nothing will ever change. I want you to be able to share your opinions and concerns and have your voice truly heard.

I am running because our leadership has lost the trust of our community.  Town leadership is supposed to be stewards to our $120 million of public funds we give them. These funds are supposed to be used for basic services that should be providing safe and thriving neighborhoods and a prosperous business community. Belmont is not thriving fiscally. Mismanagement has led us to $166 million deficit where the apparent plan is to raise taxes every four to five years, starting next year. Without change, we will continue to lose local businesses and we will not be able to afford to live in our homes.

What can we do to improve our situation? We need to change our culture. You may have noticed I have not mailed literature with lists of supporters, nor have I solicited for campaign contributions. I not running for Selectman to represent a few, I want to represent all 25,000 residents of this town. I am here on my own merit, not on the merit of others.

Despite several e-mails circulating by other campaigns attacking my character during this race,  as voters, you must decide what to believe. I know what is true because I have lived it. However, I would ask you: Do you trust those who would disseminate falsehoods to gain power? Are those the actions of a true leader? This is not Belmont, this is not leadership.

I moved to Belmont to provide my daughter the best I could. I want her to thrive in school, be safe walking on our streets and have her grow up with a strong sense of community. I believe many of us share these values. We want leaders that will bring us together to overcome our challenges and create a vision for our future, not to divide us. We need to prepare for our future keeping in mind our shared values of community, education, family, and inclusion from our past.

We need a leader that will be fiscal responsibility. Relying heavily on our taxpayers is especially burdensome to our young families and seniors. I will work to provide more strategic and creative planning and budgeting for our future. I will do this through open discussion and working to understand differences of opinion – I will welcome all input. Every person in our community matters, just as every vote matters.

We need a leader that will support local businesses. As a local small business owner, I will use my 10 years of experience to establish more business-friendly town policies to increase community support and strengthen our tax base. I will work to encourage businesses to open and stay in Belmont using a more streamlined process to help create a more vibrant community.

We need a leader that will address our traffic. Using my military and law enforcement experience, I will work to implement new solutions to address traffic congestion and improve safety, such as four-way stops at every intersection surrounding our schools. We can make Belmont a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly town.

We need to have a diversity of leadership experiences on the board of selectman. I differentiate myself as a military veteran and local small business owner.

As your Selectman, I will work tirelessly to thoughtfully and collaboratively represent our community.  While providing a fresh, new voice to the persistent problems Belmont faces, my primary responsibility will be to represent our town. 

Letter To The Editor: Selectmen Need Epstein’s Creativity and Collaboration

Photo: Roy Epstein at the Belmont League of Women Voters debate.

To the editor:

Successfully completing major capital projects in Belmont requires high levels of cooperation among many boards and committees. Roy Epstein knows how the system works. He helped to save the Town at least $40 million.

Finally fixing the police station and DPW facility began with conversations at the Warrant Committee and the Capital Budget Committee. The approach gathered steam when the Major Capital Projects Working Group formed an unusual solution to address both buildings, in place. The DPW/BPD Building Committee refined the creative thinking of prior groups to present a plan which Town Meeting enthusiastically supported.

Not only is the work happening after years of inaction, but it’s also being done at a price that does not require a debt exclusion. This solution required great creativity and collaboration. Consultants repeatedly told us that new DPW and Police facilities would cost at least $50 million. The dedicated work of the many volunteers on multiple committees produced an excellent plan that should cost the Town only about $10 million.

Roy was a key contributor, working with all these groups in that evolving process. His analysis, out-of-box thinking, and financial expertise propelled the various groups to the present moment – both facilities are now out to bid.

Roy is a cooperative and creative team member. Please help elect him to the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, April 2.

Anne Marie Mahoney

Precinct 1

Belmont Officers Want Insider For New Chief

Photo: Belmont Police Department’s Todd Benedetti speaking before the Belmont Board of Selectmen

Representatives from the Belmont Police Department’s rank and file and their superiors were speaking from the same hymnal at Monday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting, asking the board to limit its search for a new chief from within the force.

With several officers with extensive professional development and advanced degrees in criminal justice, “I honestly don’t believe you’ll find any finer leaders then what we have in this department,” said Belmont Police Sgt. Ben Mailhut representing the department’s Superior Officers Association 

At the end of the meeting, the board authorized the writing of a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking a consultant to assist the town in finding a replacement for Chief Richard McLaughlin who is retiring on Dec. 31, 2019.

In a March 14 memo to the Selectmen, Belmont’s Human Resources Director Jessica Porter wrote that while there are arguments to keep the search inside the department – cost, consistency of departmental operations and morale – including external candidates will allow for a greater pool of professional applicants. She reminded the board it has had success selecting from outside including the appointment of the Town Administrator, the Belmont Light General Manager and Town Accountant.

“There’s pluses and minuses [when including an external search]. On the one hand, you don’t want to discourage people who are internal from moving up and on the other hand you really don’t know what’s out there until you start looking and we’ve made several hires from the outside,” said Selectmen Chair Adam Dash.

In an attempt for a compromise, Selectman Mark Paolillo put forth a two-step approach in which internal applicants would be vetted and only if no one meets the criteria for the position, only then would outside candidates be brought forward.

Belmont Police personnel made it clear their preference where the next chief should come from. Belmont Police Department’s Todd Benedetti said officers like himself, supervisors and the public “are watching this meeting and are very concerned with the possibility that the town spending thousands of dollars on an outside search when there are viable candidates inside the department.”

“Why not interview these candidates first then go to the outside if it is necessary,” said Benedetti, noting that closeby communities such as Watertown, Lexington, Waltham and Arlington are staying inside the department as it will ease the transition and keep morale high. With the renovation of police headquarters soon to be underway, “this is not the time” for an outside hire  “to come in and get used to the department.”

“Our officers believe in our internal candidates and believe it will allow in an easy transition through these tough times,” he said.

Porter presented a four-part recruitment process to the board:

  1. Hiring a consultant/search firm to assist the town.
  2. Whether or not the consultant conducts an assessment center; ie mock exercises involving real-life situations which the candidates would resolve a problem or
  3. Create a nine-person screening committee consisting of  Mark Paolillo, who is leaving the selectmen in April, Belmont Schools Superintendent John Phelan, a representative from the schools such as a principal, a president or member of a PTO, two residents, someone representing the Council on Aging, and a current police chief from a neighboring town.

Under the plan’s timeline, the issuance of the RFP will occur in July, and the screening committee appointed in mid-September. Finalists for the position will come before the selectmen in November and a final vote among the candidates in mid-November.

If all goes to plan, Belmont’s next police chief’s first day will be Jan. 6, 2020.

Belmont’s ‘Triple A’ Worth Millions In School Bonding Market

Photo: Selectman Mark Paolillo signing the 30-year bond note.

Some may ask what’s the big deal if Belmont is a double or triple A? “Is there any real difference by having an added A to your name?” referring to the agencies which assign credit ratings for issuers of debt obligations, or bonds.

In Belmont’s case, that single letter was worth a cool six million in savings to property owners, according to Belmont Town Treasurer Floyd Carman who attended the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, March 18.

“Let me start by saying we should all be proud of these results, we all contributed,” said Carman, referring to town and school officials and the board.

“This is why it is important for people to know the importance of the triple-A bond rating,” said Board Chair Adam Dash. 

Carman’s Monday visit was for the three-member board to sign off on 30-year bond notes that took place on March 12 totaling $108,100,000 that included $100 million in the first of three payments to build the new 7-12 school building which starts construction this June, $7.4 million for the renovation and expansion of the Belmont Police Department police station and $700,000 for the multi-year water main replacement program. The bonds attracted seven bidders and were sold at a 3.31 percent interest rate locked in for 30 years to JP Morgan.

Yet Belmont will only be financing $102,030,000 of that debt. According to Carman, the difference of $6,070,000 is what the town received in “premium money.”

“This is the best possible outcome you could have had with a sale of bonds,” said Dash, which Carman called a combination of “luck and our excellent ratings.” The luck part due to timing as recent actions by the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell in stop hiking up the discount rate which impacts interest rates.

For instance, Belmont taxpayers will not be financing $100 million for the new school, but $94,428,000, which will result in a savings of $1.2 million from the town’s operating budget. Preserving the town’s AAA rating will “save” taxpayers between $50 to $60 a year from the initial cost projection for the school project.

Belmont’s credit score was confirmed by two rating agencies – Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s – which assessed the town had an exceptional degree of creditworthiness and could easily meet its financial commitments. The highest rating is a rare honor as only 9 of 350 cities and towns in Massachusetts hold a AAA rating. 

The process of retaining the bond rating began in February when the town’s finance team made up of Carman, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, Town Accountant Chitra Subramanian, Assistant Town Administrator Jon Marshall, Belmont Assessor Dan Dargon, School Department Director of Finance, Business and Operations Tony DiCologero and Glen Castro, the town’s budget analyst, spent the better part of the day on rating calls with S&P and Moody’s, answering questions “to make sure this financing was first rate.”

“They really harped on good financial management and good fiscal and retirement policies. They don’t want any surprises,” said Carman, who told one of the rating agencies last April that the town was coming in with the three large projects.

“It’s a team effort,” said Carman on gaining and then maintaining a triple-A rating. “You have to have all your key financial people together. This didn’t just pop up overnight. We’ve been planning for this for two years.” 

Paying for the debt on the bonds will see real estate taxes increase annually by $760 on the average single family home (in 2019 valued at $1,090,000) effective on Jan. 1, 2020.

All Electric: Selectmen OK Power Storage, Solar Farm At Incinerator Site

Photo: An example of a battery storage site.

Where once Belmont burned its trash will become an electrical park as the Belmont Board of Selectmen voted to install a combined battery storage facility and solar farm at the former town’s incinerator on Concord Avenue near the Lexington town line.

“That’s the beauty of this use. It’s not tall, it’s not noisy, it’s not disruptive and it will not cause issues,” said Belmont Selectmen Chair Adam Dash.

But the public will need to wait upwards to three years before the new electrical hub is up and running; the town will need to design a “cap” over the contaminated ash produced over nearly 20 years the incinerator was in operation. In addition, the town is looking at a $800,000 gap between the $3.6 million cost of the barrier and $2.8 million in a community stabilization fund to pay of the cap. 

Installed in what resemble cargo shipping containers, the battery storage units will be used to both store electricity from both the solar panels and from the electrical grid during times when energy costs are low – the middle of the night – and distribute it during “peak” hours such as the late afternoon and evening.. 

By using the entire parcel with the exception of land used by the town’s Department of Public Works, the solar segment could generate the two megawatts of electricity that would make the facility financially viable for Belmont Light, the town’s electrical utility which would manage the operation.

The selection process which began in 2017 with 17 options came down to three; the storage facility, a bike/skate play area and open space. Two more controversial uses; an anaerobic digester and a multi-rink ice skating rink, where deemed unacceptable in February by the state’s Department of Capital Assets and Management Maintainance – which transferred the site to the town in 2015 – as both would generate revenue for a third party and was not seen as a municipal use.

The open space was attractive as the town is wanting of recreational space but it is a polluted site, the topography is challenging and the DPW will actively be on site for composting and other uses. While Dash described it as a “great idea”, maintaining and cleaning a “remote” bike/skate park would be a handful as the town is overburdened with patrolling the existing inventory of parks and playgrounds. 

The battery storage/solar farm was seen as the most practical use with the greatest upside. It is a passive use, was not opposed by homeowners on the backside of Belmont Hill and has the added advantage of meeting the town’s climate action goals and both the solar array and storage units can be replaced when technology improves.

“I just love the idea of having a use that can help solve so many issues,” said Selectman Mark Paolillo who has long been a support of the energy storage concept.

In addition, Belmont will have some expertise in the installation of electrical solar power. Belmont Light General Manager Christopher Roy led the Concord utility in the building of a solar facility on an old land ll, which generates up to 1.7 megawatts of electricity. Roy also submitted data to the Belmont Selectmen of the potental of cost savings with the creation of a combined solar and storage park. 

Opinion: Five Facts That Need Examination To Determine Route For Community Path

Photo: 2014 map of the proposed community path. (Town of Belmont)

By Jarrod Goentzel and Phil Lawrence, co-founders, Friends of the Belmont Community Path

Dear Belmont Selectmen and Town Leaders on the Community Path Project Committee,

We appreciate the Board of Selectmen efforts to maintain momentum on the Belmont Community Path by making decisions to facilitate the next phase of design. We acknowledge that the 2-1 decision at the Feb. 25 meeting to recommend the route on the south side of the tracks from Brighton Street to Alexander Avenue followed careful deliberation and support from the Community Path Project Committee. Given that significant uncertainties remain for that section, we applaud the Selectmen’s decision to make this recommendation contingent on further due diligence of the southern route and to confirm the viability of Contingent Route number one on the north as a ready alternative. 

This period of due diligence is crucial. Selecting a route that ultimately cannot be designed or built due to insufficient town funding, environmental risk, broad public backlash, or other issues may cause Belmont to miss the federal funding opportunity. The Selectmen’s decision justifiably emphasized the feasibility study and its recommendation, which Pare Corporation did not change at the February 25 meeting based on recent information. The Selectmen also had to rely on personal judgment for issues where the study was incomplete. We suggest that the board to quickly assess additional evidence as it arises given the urgency of the design funding request to Town Meeting in May. 

As part of this due diligence, we review below the evidence regarding five key points discussed on Feb. 25 to identify areas where the feasibility study is incomplete and where the Selectmen’s judgment must be applied. 

1. The feasibility study recommendation is based on a slim 76-75 difference in score between the Recommended Route (South) and Contingent Route #1 (North).

It is important to note that during the Feb. 25 meeting, the score advantage for the southern route was mistakenly reported as 70-63 (which are actually the scores for the E3b and E3a sub-sections, respectively). The difference in composite score, which considers the alignment of all segments along the route as the basis of the route recommendation, is only 76-75. This extremely narrow margin justifies the BOS confirmation regarding the viability of readily switching to Contingent Route number one if due diligence raises concerns with the recommended route.

2. The feasibility study did not consider acquisition and environmental permitting costs for the Purecoat North/Crate Escape location that are required on the southern route for an easement.

The feasibility study only estimated costs for construction, operations, and maintenance, which would almost entirely be covered by federal funds. The study did not consider the costs for right-of-way acquisition or environmental permitting, both of which must be borne by the town. Discussion on Feb. 25 revealed incomplete information regarding the options and associated costs. The Selectmen wisely made their decision contingent on further due diligence.

3. The feasibility study did not assess environmental risks associated with the Purecoat North/Crate Escape location on the southern route.

Excavation for the path poses an extremely high risk for Chapter 21E environmental cleanup at the only location in Belmont tracked by the EPA as a toxic site. Belmont taxpayers deserve clarity on the potential costs and future risks associated with the recommended route and clarity on how the board would fund these incremental costs given the town’s financial constraints. The Selectmen wisely made their decision contingent on further due diligence. 

4. The feasibility study could not consider utilization of the Belmont High School property while under redesign.

The southern route runs through the high school campus, resulting in many positive aspects noted on Feb. 25. However, there are potential opportunity costs in using this property (e.g. lost field space or parking) and operational costs (e.g., security monitoring of a public pathway through the open campus). The Belmont School Committee has not yet taken a vote on this route. The Selectmen wisely incorporated approval by the School Committee as a contingency. 

5. The feasibility study recommendation and the recent Pare Corporation review of recent information ignore persistent public concern with the railroad crossing and state agency preference to avoid the railroad crossing.

The feasibility study analysis of the at grade Brighton Street crossing (segment E4a) did not distinguish a northern route crossing of the STREET ALONE from a southern route crossing of the STREET AND RAILROAD. This distinction is important for two reasons:

  • Public opinion: The study assumed double weights for all User Experience criteria based on clear public input. Recent public feedback centered on the difference in User Experience of a railroad crossing. With no distinction in scoring for E4, the feasibility study fails to incorporate persistent public concern with the at-grade railroad crossing.
  • The study assumed any MBTA rejection as a fatal flaw. Although he stopped short of rejecting the railroad crossing during the January 28 meeting, John (Jody) Ray from the MBTA stated: “the MBTA would always prefer that every crossing was a separated crossing, either below or above the tracks.” Michael Trepanier from MassDOT echoed this sentiment, saying “one fatality is always one too many”. With no distinction in scoring for that crossing, the feasibility study fails to incorporate the clear preference for the northern route Brighton Street crossing by the MBTA and MassDOT.

The Board of Selectmen’s judgment should consider that, given the feasibility study’s emphasis on User Experience and MBTA perspective, the composite score for the northern route would have scored higher and been recommended if there had been distinct scoring for the Brighton Street crossing.

The Selectmen recommended the southern route with contingencies regarding unknown right-of-way property issues and school preferences. The 60-day contingency period may not allow for proper due diligence with property owners to determine realistic acquisition costs or reasonable environmental risk assessment. The Board of Selectmen should only proceed with the design of the southern route if they can disseminate sufficient evidence to address the budgetary and environmental risks for Belmont residents and the safety concerns for future users whose federal taxes would build the path. If proper due diligence cannot be completed prior to the Town Meeting in May, then you should not stall momentum on the Belmont Community Path with further delays to gather more information. 

Meanwhile, there is no reason to delay. Evidence indicates that the contingent northern route is not only viable but also preferential when incorporating public and state agency opinion regarding the railroad crossing. With no right-of-way acquisition or potential EPA cleanup, the cost for Belmont is lower. We recommend that you reduce risks, lower costs, and avoid delays by promptly exercising the northern route contingency.

Note: To date, the Friends of the Belmont Community Path has focused on providing information to educate and encourage discourse among Belmont residents. Given the high priority for MassDOT to add this critical link in the Mass Central Rail Trail and use of federal taxpayer funds to build it, we plan to invite engagement with the wider community in advocating for a safe, off-road path.

Board Select South Route For Community Path … For Now

Photo: Pare’s Amy Archer (l) listening to Selectmen Chair Adam Dash. 

By a slim 2-1 margin, the Belmont Board of Selectmen voted to support placing a portion of a proposed community path from a new underpass at Alexander Avenue to Brighton Street along the south side of the commuter rail tracks, avoiding the residential neighborhood along Channing Road.

While it is the board’s preference, a south route is far from a slam dunk. Previous discussions with Purecoat North indicated the company was willing to sell the entire building – currently the home of the dog daycare facility Crate Escape – for upwards of $6 million for the entire structure, an amount Selectman Mark Paolillo called “unacceptable.”

The meeting was called to answer a simple question, said Chair Adam Dash: “If you know then what you know now, would you still support a south route for the path.” The quire was directed at Amy Archer, the consultant for the Pare Corporation which wrote the feasibility study of the entire community path which was presented in 2017.

Dash also said the selectmen have an increasingly tight time constraint on selecting a path as Town Meeting will have a $1 million Community Preservation Committee grant for design work to vote on and the town was preparing to seek state money for other work.

The board accepted Pare’s recommendation in which the path would run on the north side of the commuter rail line from Belmont Center to a proposed underpass at Alexander Avenue then proceeding along the south side to Brighton Street.

But the town and the board reopened the process in the fall of 2018 when word came from the MBTA and the MassDOT – who will determine which rail to trail projects around the state should receive funding – voiced considerable concern for the south route as it led commuters, pedestrians, and others to cross the rail tracks at an angle, which is a

At Monday’s meeting, Archer reiterated much of the initial findings which pointed out that as both the south and north options approached the Brighton intersection, they would encounter “pinch points” that will reduce the width the path to less than optimum ratios for safety and traveling.

Along the north side, there are 600 feet of path abutting property owned by FE French Construction, that would make it difficult for emergency vehicles to “literally open their doors” said Archer, if they were needed.

The southerly route would also meet a barrier of the Purecoat building of roughly 80 feet. But there was a solution, according to Archer; the acquisition by the town of a portion of the building, which would be removed or designed in a way to allow the necessary width for travel and first responders.

Archer said the study determined that “some negotiation” with the building owner on what they determined would be a “minor impact” to the structure. There was one catch to the building; it has been determined that soil is contaminated, which brings into play the state’s Superfund law, known as Chapter 21E, which describes the legal obligations of property owners and other potentially responsible parties when contamination is found which has its own potentially high price tag.

While running the path along Hittinger Street to Brighton to bypass the congestion point has been suggested and was in the feasibility study, the selectmen essentially rejected that proposal as well as taking the building through eminent domain laws.

Archer also noted that safety at Brighton Street intersection could be resolved with additional gates along the sidewalks. She noted that due to the future increased levels of the pedestrian, bike, and vehicular traffic on Brighton Avenue will require the intersection to be redesigned for increased safety and effective traveling whether the path is built or not.

After the presentation, Dash asked if Archer’s decision from 2017 to recommend the southern route was still valid.

“The Pare team stands by that decision,” Archer told the board.

The board debated the “new” information, pondering whether to delay a decision or simply bite the bullet and make a final determination. In the end, the majority – Tom Caputo and Paolillo – settled on the compromise to select a southern route but only if and when “successful” negotiations with Purecoat.

“I can’t go against our expert consultants that were supported by the Community Path Advisory Committee,” said Paolillo.